At the intersection of fourth-wave feminism and third-wave sports media research, this critical discourse analysis will focus on the ways in which gender hierarchy and gender expectations are manifested in articles on ESPN.com. Through the investigation of sports media framing techniques, the ESPN articles in examination construct an idealized female identity within sports through the language used. This narrow view of female athletes allows for the power and influence that sports media has to construct gender hierarchies in the media landscape.
Using Fairclough’s (1989) method of conducting a critical discourse analysis, the prevalent sports media sentiments about Simone Biles, Megan Rapinoe, and Serena Williams will illustrate the sexist, racist, and homophobic language used. Through applying the Televised Sports Manhood Formula (Messner et. al, 2000) as a foundational discourse in sports media to journalism, the hierarchy of sports media results in the use of character framing techniques for sportswomen. When aspects like ambivalence and non-sports related information are emphasized, these strategies uphold the masculine hegemony of sports media.